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Office Evolution is seeing pent-up demand for its services and wants to share its success with savvy franchisees.
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Today, Office Evolution is known as the U.S.’ largest provider of locally owned and operated flexible workspace locations – but it began, like many successful ideas do, as a passion. Founder and CEO Mark Hemmeter was the client of a flexible workspace competitor back in 2000, and fell in love with the business model.
Specifically, Hemmeter appreciated being surrounded by entrepreneurs and small business owners; the exact clientele that now utilize the more than 70 Office Evolution locations situated across 26 states.
“I love people who start businesses,” says Hemmeter. “Our target market is business owners who are typically 35 to 55 years old, have a family and kids and live in the suburbs. We want to bring something to them that’s very convenient; these are people who used to work downtown, but now want to work where they live.”
CORNERING THE MARKET, CLOSER TO HOME
It’s been over two decades since Hemmeter first got the idea that would eventually launch Office Evolution, but the brand is still as committed to its original goal as ever: bringing flexible workspace solutions to suburbs and neighborhoods, rather than trying to compete in big cities.
“Back in 2003, nobody had any idea what flex offices, shared offices, or virtual offices were. The big change is awareness,” says Hemmeter. “The core need is unchanged: the need for small business owners to have a professional place to work.”
And that consistency has paid off. The global pandemic has affected many industries, but for Office Evolution, it has only strengthened the brand’s core premise. The simple fact is that individuals don’t want lengthy commutes into cities anymore; they want to work where they live, and achieve a richer work-life balance.
By targeting suburban and neighborhood locations, Office Evolution is bringing its services to its clients’ doorsteps. This strategy is already paying off – not only was Office Evolution able to remain open throughout the pandemic due to its essential service listing, but the concept also opened five new flexible workspace centers during the height of the year’s disruption. These are situated throughout Texas, Oregon, Georgia, and Virginia; with each being used by the exact kind of local entrepreneurs that inspired Hemmeter in the first place.
“We provide an extremely flexible, close-to-home option, which is relatively rare in the U.S. We’re close to home because people said that they don’t need to go downtown anymore,” says Hemmeter. “We’re super flexible because you can have an office for a day or two a week, rather than the full month. We’re about as flexible as you can get, which is what the new world is going to need.”
SOPHISTICATED ENTREPRENEURS WANTED
With its ongoing growth, Office Evolution is looking to partner with sophisticated entrepreneurs who understand the hospitality side of the business. Pent-up demand throughout the pandemic means that the brand is expecting a huge boom of interest this year, and it’s interested in speaking with the right kind of operators that can make its expansion plans a reality.
“The sweet spot is somebody who opens between three and five locations,” explains Hemmeter. “We’re looking for sophisticated executives or serial entrepreneurs – franchisees who are really good at business development and sales and understand the hospitality mindset. We’ve already got a really good bunch of franchisees, and we’re interested to find even more.”
It’s not just Office Evolution’s clientele that can achieve a solid work-life balance, either. Franchisees for the brand will only operate their center during normal business hours, with only one employee needed at the front desk. Because of this, centers operate with a 93 per cent recurring income model.
“We’re looking for sophisticated executives or serial entrepreneurs – franchisees who are really good at business development and sales, and understand the hospitality mindset”
But what if a prospective franchisee doesn’t have any experience with running a flexible workspace business? “I almost prefer that they don’t,” says Hemmeter, “because then we’ve got bad habits to unwind. If they’re creative, hospitality-oriented, business development-oriented, then they can be a really good fit.”
EVOLVING WITH THE TIMES
One of the biggest changes brought about by the pandemic is that landlords are now looking to work directly with Office Evolution to generate revenue: “landlords are now calling us directly saying ‘I need help. I want to get into this business and want to do something flexible, but I don’t have the infrastructure to do it.’,” says Hemmeter.
“That never occurred pre-pandemic, so if anything the pandemic has just accelerated trends that were already happening. We were going to see more remote work, but it was going to take five to 10 years.”
If you think that you’d like to join Office Evolution’s growing Ohana – Hawaiian for ‘family’ – then reach out today and become a part of the flexible workspace revolution.
AT A GLANCE
Number of units: 140 locations awarded, 75+ open
Investment range: $374,000 - $1.6m
Minimum required capital: $500,000 (liquid) / $1m (net worth)
Contact: Tamara Atkin; firstname.lastname@example.org
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